The Colorado Avalanche missed the playoffs for the second season in a row in Patrick Roy’s third season behind the bench. Just like last year, it was their slow start that hurt them down the stretch as they missed the final wild card spot by a mere few points. There are obvious weaknesses in their NHL lineup but they have several prospects who could play integral roles in the 2016-17 season.
In just 24 hours, the Colorado Avalanche dramatically changed the college and European pipelines from bleak to optimistic. On June 26th, 2015, the team sent forwards Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn to the Buffalo Sabres and in return received JT Compher as part of a four-piece package. One day later at the 2015 NHL Draft, the team selected 21-year old Andrei Mironov from the KHL. Mironov’s age and extensive international and professional experience made it easier for the Avalanche to see what they have in him as a prospect.
The Colorado Avalanche’s top five prospects are as good as any other team’s in the league but after fifth-ranked Nicolas Meloche the level of talent begins to wane and big question marks appear. The front office targeted defense as a weakness a few years ago, putting emphasis on improving that area at the expense of the forward group. The lack of success in the mid- to late-rounds has not helped the team’s situation.
Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy have used the last three drafts and two summers to turn a once dismal prospect pool into an underrated one. The key to continued success in the NHL is to have good depth and cheap replacements: two things a strong pipeline provides. Before the duo took over the front office, the team depth had been hurt by immediate graduation of top picks and lack of success in the later rounds in addition to free agency duds.
Defense wins championships and that is what Patrick Roy returned to Denver to accomplish. Despite his team taking a step back in his sophomore season behind an NHL bench, Roy is confident the lessons learned will only help the team going forward. In addition to his role as head coach, Roy holds a second title as Vice President of Hockey Operations, giving him a voice in all player personnel decisions. The new philosophy as to how the team will be constructed both now and in the future is trending towards an emphasis on size, character, and skills. Roy has also shown he is open to drafting and signing free agents from Europe’s top leagues, something that occurred less frequently in the years prior to his return.